Saturday 7 March

Lit by intermittent gaslight, as my tumbling horsedrawn gallops through the dusk towards yet another party, I take a good look at my hands for the first time in years. Prematurely veined, with the same blood-pumping deltas I recognize from my father's as a boy, I now notice my very first liver spots. Prematurely vain (as a teen I couldn't leave the house without an up-top slop of beeswax) it may surprise my older friends to know that I greeted this sight with a smile. Not of happiness - for who wants to be reminded of the receding years or hairline? - but of relief. An indication that some day I'll be able to give up worrying about my physical and sartorial elegance altogether; simply waking up and requesting the aged Miss Jordan cover my tummy-banana with a squirrel-skin sheath, or whichever rag we've been using to buff the grandfather clock, before setting out for a day of startling jetpack-wearing youngsters.

Am I making a serious point? Not yet, I don't feel quite old enough to and this is another reason for the smile. I am content with my lot (if not the world at large) in a way that would not have occurred to me in my younger days. I feel better, healthier, more positive, helped by the fact that much of the time I'm having an absolute ball. Yet one can't help but wonder about my generation's gentle approach to middle-age. Only ten years ago we were all munching on barndance biscuits and even now more seem to be taking up hazardous pursuits (e.g. marriage) than forsaking them. I don't imagine for one second that this lot will be making way politely for the next. I foresee their remaining hair being dyed bright pink, pensions traded for magic monkey juice; all night waltzing in mechanized bathchairs. This is truly a generation that will refuse to grow old, unless .......children....... once you have them it seems they refuse to grow old more vehemently than anyone else ever previously alive. ‘Send them down the mines’ is the learned advice of this increasingly wizened old tortoise.

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